Tag Archives: Winter

Parties and Preparation

Sunrise/sunset: 08:01/ 17:03. Daylength: 9hr02min

I had a pleasant day yesterday, and indeed an enjoyable week altogether. Friday is often the best day of the week anyway, but I had a good start to mine when Vaidotas told me he thought he, Konstantin and I make a great team. Yesterday was my only day at the abattoir this week. I’ve been there a good deal less this year than last, so it was very pleasant to hear I’m appreciated, even though I’m slightly bemused as to which part of my performance he thinks is most useful.

As a quick update, on any day in the season, there is a team of three on the sheep line. We work in a rota of one hour on, thirty minutes off, so when the line is running, there are two of us working at any time. Vaidotas and Konstantin are there daily, and different people make up the number on different days. You’d think it was all about teamwork. Beyond our smaller team, we’re also part of a much bigger team on the line, with perhaps a hundred people, each doing one or two small tasks. However, despite that teamwork, there’s also a feeling of being on your own. The line is noisy, so headphones (attached to a helmet) are the order of the day. There’s not much chance for chat and the work doesn’t require much thought, so there are times when I retreat into my own head, sometimes quite a distance.

Indeed yesterday, with Vaidotas’ happy praise in my head, I started thinking about what I would tell you about it. As I was wondering what he liked about my performance, it crossed my mind that I spend at least some of my time daydreaming, which can’t be all that helpful. I glanced out of the window for a moment as I considered how I would describe that, and thought perhaps I could say I must spend some time staring into the middle distance like some badly written heroine of romance. I was weaving through a mental maze about whether I could compare myself to Jane Eyre, or Eliza Bennet (not that either of those are badly written and neither are particularly prone to the middle distance gaze) when it struck me that even the worst romance writer would not set her (or his) story in an abattoir.

Modern romance novels often take a particular form, so I began to wander through a few possible titles, Canteen Cakes in the Little Slaughter Kitchen maybe or Snowflakes in Nortura Skies, I found myself grinning, and indeed I did smile at everyone around me because I was feeling rather cheery. So perhaps the reason Vaidotas enjoys working with me is because I stand around all day giggling to myself at the silly thoughts in my head. After all, it is unlikely to be my other habit that he finds praiseworthy, as my other habit is peering quizzically at something unusual on a side of lamb that might be nasty (or maybe not) and pointing it out to him to see what he thinks, at which point he invariably reaches for his knife and cuts it off, while I watch and think that next time, I must remember to be decisive and do that myself. Anyway, regardless of the reasons why, I was very pleased.

The rest of the week has been enjoyable too. I didn’t have too much work pending and I had quite a lot of flexitime, so I’ve been working shorter days than usual. Though we don’t have to be back in the office, and can still work from home, it’s no longer the rule that we ought to do so. For most of the year I’ve been here, social events have largely been on hold. However, with the restrictions lifting, and a few people sitting around the table for coffee first thing in the morning, talk somehow turned to the idea of a party. So on November 12th, everyone is going to get together in the office after work. It might seem a little odd, just how exciting that seems to me, but as I said, I’ve mostly been here during lockdown and my contact with other adult human beings has been very minimal. I need to get out perhaps, and expand my network outside of work colleagues, but for now, getting to know them better sounds great.

There was, of course, discussion about food. I believe there may be some budget for socialising, but like everything in the pubic sector, it’s limited. So I piped up and said I would be happy to bring some traditional UK/Scottish food. Though it’s difficult to get some ingredients, I like making sausage rolls, for example, as you can’t buy them here. And pies and savoury pastries aren’t really a thing in the shops. There is frozen puff pastry, but I’ve no idea what they do with it as savoury pies really don’t seem to be a thing. So if I have time, I might make chicken and mushroom pasties. The recipe is here, and rather unexpectedly, that page is the most popular on my website, so I’m guessing it must be relatively reliable! I will probably also bake some shortbread biscuits. Funny that things that are basic in the UK are really quite exotic here, but I’m hoping other people will bring dishes local to them as well. I love trying different things.

I arrived at the office on Thursday morning to a very beautiful dawn. I had already taken a photo of Senja from the garden before I set out. Looking away from the sun, the blue, polar, pre-dawn light is already kicking in and it’s wonderfully clear. The photo at the top of the page shows a snow cloud over Senja from a few days earlier.

Snow covered mountains on Senja

But as I arrived at the office, the sun was just below the horizon. It was painting the clouds the most wonderful colours and then a group of crows seemed to be enjoying it too, as they performed acrobatics over the fjord. It was too intense to ignore, so I spent a few minutes outside taking photographs before I went in.

And lastly, my preparations for winter are well underway. Until recently, it was quite warm, but the temperatures have suddenly dropped, especially at night. It’s forecast to reach minus ten overnight on Wednesday. So I have thrown the extending shovel back in the car and I’ve bought an extra long implement for clearing snow off the roof of the car, which I didn’t get round to last year. The guinea pigs, after a few nights with a blanket over their outdoor cage, have now moved inside into their winter quarters. They seem very cheery about it all, and indeed have quickly remembered that the sound of the fridge opening sometimes leads to salad if you squeak loudly enough!

Susie and Brownie in their indoor quarters.

The only thing I have failed to do in time, is to change the winter wheels onto the car. They are stored in a local “Tyre hotel” as I don’t have a lot of storage space. When I went in on Monday, they told me I’d missed my slot. It transpired they had sent me an appointment for the change back in September, but as they had the wrong phone number, someone else must have received a random message that their wheel change was due. Anyway, I have a time slot on Monday, and in the meantime, I will just have to drive very carefully, if and when I go out.

Anyway, I will leave you with a photo of Triar, who seems to be enjoying the cosiness created by new blankets on the sofas, along with the return of the warmth from the heated floor. Thanks for reading and have a good week.

Upside-down Triar

Dreaming of a White … Halloween!

Sunrise/sunset: 08:07/ 14:54. Daylength: 6hr 47min

The days are getting very short now and in only one month, the sun will go down for the last time on 2020. It won’t come over the horizon again until almost the middle of January.

Monday started well with another elk sighting. This time, since the snow hadn’t yet arrived, I pulled in quickly and managed to take a photograph, though it’s not the clearest. Difficult to capture a moving target in the pre-dawn twilight.

In other news, the snow arrived properly on Thursday. For the past two days, I’ve had to factor in scraping it from the car before I set off in the morning, though so far I haven’t had to clear the driveway. . Even in those two days, I feel I’ve learned a lot. For example, it’s clear that you should never rent or buy a house in the Arctic Circle that doesn’t have a garage. Equally, if you apply for a job where you are expected to use cars daily from a car pool… make sure you don’t choose a workplace without some kind of covered parking. I expect I will get very efficient shortly, doing it at least twice a day. More if it snows while I’m at work!

Today has been rather lovely. Andrew and I set out this afternoon to go to Silsand on Senja Island. We go there some evenings and there’s a pleasant enough walk up to a lake, but to our surprise, the car park, which is usually empty, was full. Rather ominously, there was a sign up which said “Testing Senter”.

Recalling that I had read somewhere that a specialised centre for COVID was being set up in Silsand, we beat a hasty retreat, then drove north for a short way. A sign directed us towards “Woodland Lodge” and we drove down a little track, which to my delight led to a tiny pavilion and a stretch of woodland.

Andrew found some animal tracks. At first I assumed they were a dog’s, but if they were, it had gone for a walk alone. So we began to follow them. When we got down to the waterline, we found the lovely little jetty pictured at the top of the page. And though we never found the Halloween wolf… or whatever it was, all three of us very much enjoyed roaming around in the snow.

Kongeveien Jæren

This is one of my favourite short walks along a section of the old King’s Road, or Post Road that runs along the coast. There are many such roads around Norway and until relatively recently, these were the main roads around the country.

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My first view of the sea, through an avenue of trees between two farmsteads.

I’m not actually on Kongeveien yet. The first thing that comes into view is the tiny church at Varhaug.

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Varhaug gamle kirkegård

It hasn’t been cold for long. The river is still flowing, albeit with some ice around the stones.

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From the bridge

It’s such a wonderfully clear day.

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Looking north

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Looking south

If you look at the two photos above, you can see the snow has melted on the south side of the stones and not the north, a reflection of the sun’s low winter path across the sky.

I saw a number of other people out enjoying the sunshine. Below is a typical grouping, two young women, two dogs, one pushchair. When the sun is shining, it’s time to be outside.

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Not alone

It can be difficult to photograph all the things I love to look at. I am always fascinated with the rugged outlines of the stone walls, so different from those in the UK. I also love the clean lines of the branches against that vast sky, but it can be difficult to capture.

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A typical Jærsk wall.

The sea is almost completely smooth, so different from last week’s storms.

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Clear and calm

And now I’m heading back.

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I stop on the bridge to admire ice that has formed around the stones in the river.

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Patterns in the water

And then I’m back at the church and it’s time to go home.

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